Google Images Creative Commons Licences
There have been a series of major developments in the bid to legalise sports and casino betting in California over the last few days. Police raided and smashed an illegal sport betting ring in the state earlier this month, serving as a reminder that although rules regarding gambling in the US continue to ease, many forms of betting remain outlawed in the Golden State for the time being. This includes online betting, but the leading names, including Betonline casino and major global sportsbooks, continue to monitor the situation, hoping authorities will have a change of heart in 2022.
Reports from that raid on a popular sportsbook confirm several star names from the world of professional sports were involved in both running and wagering on the outcome of events including NFL matches, golf and soccer. The ringleaders have since pleaded guilty to their crimes, admitting to taking in millions of dollars of bets through an online bookie based in Costa Rica. The betting ring involved at least five people, operated for more than six years and took a gross revenue in excess of $2000 a day.
What’s the answer?
Authorities are delighted to have broken up the illegal betting ring and brought those involved to justice, but this wasn’t the first case of its kind they have had to deal with, and, as betting becomes legal across the US, it is unlikely to be the last. So, what is the answer to helping combat these crimes? Could California decriminalise or even legalise all forms of betting in the near future? Doing so would allow the state to tax major sportsbooks and casinos for operating in the area while removing the burden from its police force, who have already admitted that they are fighting an uphill battle.
Pressure is on the governors and law-makers in California to come up with the answers to these questions. While the rest of the country ploughs ahead with legalising betting or updating their age-old laws to take into account mobile gambling, Cali appears to be sitting still. That’s not the case, of course, and the state’s progress on betting was hampered by the pandemic and resulting lockdown, but citizens and big business demand answers and they are tired of waiting in limbo. And who could blame them?
Residents look across state lines at fellow Americans enjoying sports live on television and betting legally on the outcome. The Super Bowl LVI that was played in Inglewood in February ranked as the most-watched and most bet-on American Football match that ever was. That spike can be explained by improvements in legal live streaming apps available on smartphones and on the growing number of US states softening their betting rules. We even saw Canada water down their rules on sports and casino gambling, allowing bettors to enjoy more markets than they have ever done in the past. Legalising betting seems to be the way the area is moving, so what’s the hold up in California and when will things change. The answer could be sooner rather than later.
Google Images Creative Commons Licences
Sports betting referendum
On the opposite side of the same coin we have seen growing support for California tribes who are pushing for a referendum on sports betting but with one major difference to the rest of the country – they want to leave out the mobile gambling aspect, at least for now. There’s potential for at least three – possibly more – sports betting referendums later this year with supporters targeting the November General Election ballot. That’s the plan but as time marches on it could be the case that those three are driven together to create one bill to vote on that organisers hope will be watertight, making it through without much opposition.
The coalition for safe, responsible gaming recently released a statement updating backers and those still on the fence on the matter. It said their motion would allow Indian tribes to create legal, licensed and regulated in-person betting venues across California. At these premises, customers could wager on sports matches without fear of breaking the law and being hit with a huge fine. It would help bring California closer to the rest of the US while creating a safe environment for all concerned.